Error sends Shanghai Metro train wrong way

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2011, 12:00am


A Shanghai Metro train took a wrong turning during peak hours on Thursday due to a signalling error, the operator confirmed yesterday.

No one was hurt and all passengers alighted safely at the next station before doubling back to continue their journeys, according to a statement posted on the official website of the Shanghai Shentong Metro Company.

The incident took place on the same day as Shanghai's new railways chief, An Lusheng, told journalists that design flaws in the signalling system were to blame for the train crash in Wenzhou that claimed at least 40 lives and injured almost 200 last Saturday. The signalling system for the Shanghai Metro is different from that used for the high-speed line between Ningbo and Wenzhou.

According to the statement, the incident took place at 7.06pm. The train on Line 10 was supposed to take a left fork past Longxi station in the direction of Hangzhong Road, but instead veered right towards Hongqiao station.

Astonished passengers instantly sent postings to Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, but no announcement was made to tell passengers about what had happened, according to China News Service.

Shanghai Metro only responded to widespread queries about the incident via its official Weibo account and website yesterday. It said the train received signals intended for the previous train because of technical glitches while the signal system was being upgraded.

It said the driver, the system as well as the control room immediately reported the case to the police.

The control room instructed the driver to proceed to the next stop, Shanghai Zoo. Passengers were asked to go to the opposite platform, where they took a train back to Longxi, then changed again to head in the direction of Hangzhong Road, as they had originally intended.

Shanghai Metro said yesterday it was upgrading its train control communications with the help of its supplier. The fully automated system is provided by French company Alstom and its Chinese joint venture, Casco.

Internet users queried whether there was a hidden risk in the system.

A technical glitch in the signalling system on the Shanghai Metro in December 2009 caused wrong speed instructions to be sent to two trains, causing them to crash. No one was hurt in that incident, but thousands were stranded for hours.